Social Media Optimization is one of the most important aspects of your presence on the Internet.
What is Social Media Optimization?
Social Media Optimization or SMO is the process of ensuring that your entire online presence is optimized for social media use.
This means that your website is optimized for social media users, that your content is shared consistently across social media networks and that your social media profiles themselves are search engine friendly.
All of these aspects add up to a more effective social media presence, which drives more traffic to your website and hopefully creates more conversions!
We know that your website is the hub of your online activity, but the numerous off-site profiles you create on social media sites can dramatically increase your visibility.
However, if these profiles aren’t correctly optimised, you won’t see the full benefit!
That’s why we’ve created this guide to social media optimization. You’ll be ensuring that both your own site and your external profiles are working together to create an awesome brand. This isn’t just about SEO; it’s also about usability and the community you’re hopefully creating around your website.
Let’s start with your own website.
On Site Social Media Optimization
We need to start at the beginning.
Your own website is the core of everything you do online.
Therefore you’ll need to get your own website optimized for social activity before you’ll see the full benefits of social media.
There are a number of things you can do to ensure that your site is ‘Social Media Friendly’.
1. Social Buttons
The most basic, but still incredibly important, piece of advice is to ensure that you have active, attractive social media buttons above the fold on your website.
All I mean by above the fold is in a prominent position towards the top of the page.
Social Media Buttons
You can see from the right hand side of this page that we display prominent, one-click social media buttons on every page on our Blog.
The less friction you can provide for an action the better! The easier it is for people to click these buttons, the more likely they are to do so.
2. Calls to Action for Social Sharing
At some point in your post you should be encouraging people to share it. Calls to action are simply pointers that literally tell site visitors what you want them to do.
We use phrases like:
“Please Tweet this article by clicking the button below!”
Even subtle phrases like this can increase the amount of social shares your content gets. The more shares you get, the more reach you’ll have!
3. Social Images
You’re probably doing this already, but it’s good practice anyway!
Make sure that your posts and pages have a unique image using the correct ALT tags.
This ensures that when your content is shared there’s a small thumbnail next to the article to help attract the user’s eyes. Images are much more engaging than text as a general rule, so remember to include images wherever you can!
Twitter cards were created by Twitter to help your content go further. Social Media Optimization wouldn’t be complete without adding Twitter card functionality to your site.
Twitter defines them as:
“Twitter Cards help you richly represent your content within Tweets across the web and on mobile devices. This gives users greater context and insight into the URLs shared on Twitter, which in turn allows Twitter to send more engaged traffic to your site or app.”
It’s the difference between these two kinds of links on Tweets:
Social Media Optimization is all about ensuring your content is more engaging, therefore increasing the number of shares your content gets on social networks.
As you can see, the link that uses Twitter cards is substantially more engaging.
It’s not just a link, there’s also an image, brand name, summary and second link to ‘View on web’.
This gives users the chance to really get excited about your content before clicking the link. If you intrigue them with this extra information, you’ll no doubt get lots of extra clicks!
Implementing these on your site is relatively simple.
It’s just a case of using the right META tags.
Here’s a really simple tool that will help you generate the code you need:
Twitter Card Validator.
This is an official Twitter product so you know you’re getting information straight from the source.
Facebook have their own version of cards, in the form of OG Tags.
Once again it’s just a case of entering the correct META information for the particular post or page you’re working with.
Facebook, unlike Twitter, will try to automatically collect this information from your page when your content is shared.
However, with OG tags you can ensure that this is displayed consistently across all platforms and set your own values for the title and description.
It also ensures that your content is fully utilising Graph Search, which is Facebook’s new search function. This will help your discoverability considerably and ensure that your content has as much reach as possible on the social network.
Open Graph Tags
As an example, here are the OG tags from the above post:
<meta property=’og:locale’ content=’en_US’/>
<meta property=’og:type’ content=’article’/>
<meta property=’og:title’ content=’Top 3 Google Reader Alternatives – Domainmonster.com Blog’/>
<meta property=’og:description’ content=’Are you searching for another RSS reader now that Google has retired Reader? In this post we give you three Free Google Reader Alternatives!’/>
<meta property=’og:url’ content=’http://blog.domainmonster.com/top-3-free-google-reader-alternatives/’/>
<meta property=’og:site_name’ content=’The Official Domainmonster.com Domain Blog’/>
<meta property=’article:publisher’ content=’https://www.facebook.com/Domainmonster’/>
<meta property=’og:image’ content=’http://blog.domainmonster.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/rss-300×300.jpg’/>
We’ve also included a few extra OG tags such as Publisher and Site Name which aren’t essential but can be included to provide extra information.
Authorship is something we’ve spoken about numerous times here on the Domainmonster.com Blog.
Authorship allows you to link any content you create to your Google+ profile. You’ll also get a nice image next to your content in the search engine results pages (SERPS). This can help boost your organic click through rate.
Here’s an example from Yoast showing what Authorship can do for your SERPS display.
Publisher is a slightly different form of Authorship which allows you to attribute content to a Google+ Page as oppose to a Google+ Personal Profile. This helps businesses drive more traffic to their Google+ Page and increase the credibility of their SERPS results.
7. Social Media Login Integration
Another great way to optimize your website for social media is to allow users to register, login or subscribe using their social media accounts.
Social Login Integration
Thanks to Komodo Media for these social login buttons.
As we mentioned earlier in this post, the less friction an action has, the more likely people are to take that action.
Using these buttons can help the process of creating an account on your site or logging into their user count incredibly simple, improving your conversion rates.
An experienced web developer should be able to set these up relatively easily. However I know most of our Monsters are using content management systems (CMS) of some description. Here’s our favourite plugins for the most popular CMS on the Domainmonster.com platform:
So there’s a guide to getting started socializing your website.
Social Media Optimization is going to become more and more important as time goes on, if you get started now you could have a real head start over your competition. You’ll hopefully begin to see the benefits pretty quickly!
In Part 2 of the post we’ll cover social networks themselves and what your social profiles need to have to perform well in search engines.
We’ll also give you a list of social media optimization resources which will help you take things a step further and create an even more engaged social media audience as your business grows!
Don’t forget to Tweet, Like, +1 and Share this article with your social media fans!